Dear Portland Trail Blazers: What Gives?
Okay, okay...I'm not gonna sit here and be a pessimist who pretends he has any idea of what it is like to play in a full season in the NBA.
Nor am I going to complain and say our beloved Portland Trail Blazers are not off to the rock'n'roll start their schedule should allow.
Rather, I am going to try to politely and positively explain why the Blazers (who stand at 9-5) are not standing at 11-2, or even 13-0.
Cause the Trail Blazers have played some pretty easy teams.
None more easy than the Golden State Warriors...who beat Portland last night in Golden State 109-94. Due to injuries...the Golden State Warriors only have about seven guys on their team.
It was... embarrassing.
One might call it: Conduct unbecoming of an NBA playoff caliber team.
So let's look at the bright side (if we can...)!
First off, about last night, prior to tip off Portland had lost eight straight games in the Bay Area, meaning we have not won in Golden State in four years.
Furthermore, Portland's twenty-three turnovers allowed Golden State get hot in front of their home court fans.
In the NBA any team you allow to get hot at home can win. End of story.
Second, Brandon Roy is not driving to the basket as much as he did last year. He is settling for a lot more outside jumpers and that makes his game hit and miss. While he has still averaged about 20 points per game, where did that slashing player from last year go?
Where is the player who moved every joint in his body like Spider-Man to attack the rim and draw fouls?
Clearly, Brandon Roy is being very cautious with his body. He plays as if he is saving his slash/cut attack (arguably his best offensive move) for later in the season or later in his career, when the game means more.
Can you blame him?
For Brandon Roy, what is the point if getting banged up attacking the paint this early on in his season and career?
What is the point of making a big playoff game if he has injuries all over his body?
Let him settle for more jumpers right now. Let him save his body. He has a five year contract and nobody is talking championship this year.
Which brings me to point three, The Trail Blazers are playing for the playoffs and hopefully moving past the first round. They're not gonna get excited or too down about losing a few games to start the season.
Doing so would be counter productive to their goal.
With that in mind, at 9-5 they still have one of the top five records in the Western Conference. That's not bad at all when you're goal is the playoffs.
One might refer to that as being "on schedule."
Fourth, aside from Brandon Roy...the entire team is relying on too many jump shots.
We have Greg Oden, Lamarcus Aldridge, and Joel Pryzbilla...they're not just thick trees in the paint...they're a red wood's forest...and we're not attacking the basket more often?
That does not make sense to me. I still can find no positive spin on that.
Cause when our shot stops falling all any NBA team needs to do is go zone defense and Portland is in a world of hurt.
Fifth, Portland has two key injuries.
Portland misses Nicolas Batum in the starting lineup and Travis Outlaw in the fourth quarter.
Nicolas Batum's long arms and stifling defense on the best players in the NBA early in games makes it difficult for them to get into a rhythm.
Travis Outlaw's heroics in the fourth quarter make it difficult for Portland to find a replacement go-to guy down the stretch.
Fortunately, they have Rudy Fernandez and once they start going to him in the fourth quarter on a regular basis he should be able to provide those dagger baskets we need.
Finally...Portland has yet to have that big game-winning shot which fires them into battle-mode.
Last year when Brandon Roy sent a now-infamous 0.8 second three pointer into a "swishing" win over the Houston Rockets it did not just win the game...it ignited a fuse which remained lit all season.
And last season was magical.
When that happens we'll see our beloved Portland Trail Blazers dance and party off the floor, the Portland fans will go hay-wire, and it's gonna pump the franchise up to win, win, win...
So hang tight Blazer fans.
The team is doing OK.
Soon they'll do a lot better.
And that's what gives.
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